The first impression of this record is made by the cover photograph of a red dirt road in the middle of a flat deserted landscape, accentuated by a series of utility poles. Scorched Earth, as the title is translated, is a fitting description of the Salentine region of Southern Italy where Radicanto come from.
The second impression the cups of primary colors sitting atop a tambourine on the back cover of the booklet. Scorched Earth, maybe, but there are hidden hues and pleasures in it.
The pace never falters. Through the use of acoustic instruments ranging from berimbau and dumbeck to standing bass, flute and from accordion to zampogna and tamburello, the interpretations of the mostly traditional songs render the spirit of this land familiar. It is the essence of hard work, poverty, daydreaming, immigration, wide smiles, centuries-old memories and cultural references that stretch across the Mediterranean, regardless of the music being at times slow or fast, melancholic or festive. This is music of rare beauty, performed with respect and proficiency, while simultaneously taking chances, cuddling up to jazz (an idiom that lends itself to this musical tradition), and using influences from other lands and poetry.
Before you quite understand it, the sixth track is playing. Called "Lu Rusciu (The Rumor)" it is heartbreakingly simple and simply heartbreaking; this Salentine serenade unites the themes of immigration, love, land, sea and lust (a subject that the traditional musicians of the region never shy away from). You may find yourself out of your seat, dancing.
In the course of the fifty minutes of this musical journey, we are taken to many ports, and a monastery; we watch a few tarantellas, the traditional shamanic dances of the region, then a waltz, and we shed a few tears for deep romantic stories before taking up dancing again.
The fourth impression comes from the notes in the booklet (in Italian): concise, heartfelt, showing a typical pride and love for their land and all the Úlan of a region that is leaving behind difficult times and is optimistic about the future.
The final, lasting impression is of a musical tradition that is one of the most melodic and beautiful of Italy and, dare I say, the whole world, and a band that succeeds in uniting the three elements that make up its name: roots, song and radicalism. - Nondas Kitsos
More audio samples and CD available at cdRoots
Audio:"'Mmienz'a mmare" ©2001 Ludos/CNI, Italy
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